On the Epistemic Ruins of Experience

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With each imaginary city a separate but coalescent epistemological riddle, Calvino’s Invisible Cities is a meditation on the troubles of knowing the world in which we live and our place in it. The only systematicity to be found in Calvino’s ecology of knowledge is in the paradoxes; common sense is playfully evaded in favor of illogical realism and non-Euclidean quantum physics. Radical is, I argue, the a-systemic object ontology and the agential epistemology Calvino offered 50 years ago, if interpreted as a reflection on the limitations of knowledge. Logocentrism (i), the concept of logical truth (ii), progressive timelines of accumulated wisdom (iii), and the assumption of the possibility of objectivity (iv) leave instead space for silent forms of communication and uncertainty (i), the primacy of doubt (ii), and the redistribution in the world of time, agency, and cognition (iii–iv), all of which flatten hierarchies and decenter the human. They also oblige us to confront fears, desires, and assumptions in order to start knowing and perhaps enjoying the difficulty of knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInvisible Cities and the Urban Imagination
EditorsBenjamin Linder
Place of PublicationLondon and New York
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-13048-9
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2022

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© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG


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